A Pennsylvania woman who beat her daughter for failing to satisfactorily recite verses from the Bible will spend two and a half to five years in state prison.
Rhonda Shoffner was sentenced after she pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, strangulation, endangering the welfare of a child, and terroristic threats, according to Fox 43.
The criminal complaint states that Shoffner slammed her daughter’s head into the bathroom wall and kicked her multiple times after failing to precisely repeat the verses.
The victim told police that Shoffner had been drunk for three days prior to the assault. She added that Shoffner strangled her during the attack and stated she was going to kill her, the criminal complaint says.
Don’t mix alcohol and religious fundamentalism, kids.
The daughter was eventually “kicked out of the house,” after which she was able to escape to a fast food restaurant and call for help.
I’m glad the girl wasn’t hurt even worse, and that she’s still alive, but I can’t help but think about how terrible this crime is. Her mother literally tried to beat religion into her daughter — pretty much the opposite of letting the text speak for itself and allowing her to choose her own path.
And over what? Text that’s both historically inaccurate and containing language not suitable for children. You could argue the daughter shouldn’t have been reading it in the first place, let alone being beaten for not knowing it by heart.
Shoffner’s actions may not even be all that surprising considering how the Bible is filled with advice on how to beat your children. The famous “spare the rod, spoil the child” line comes from Proverbs 13:24, and Proverbs 23:13 further encourages parents to “punish them with the rod” because “they will not die.”
The worst part is this isn’t an isolated incident. In 2012, for example, a seven-year-old boy was beaten to death by his parents because he didn’t read the Bible when they told him to.
Police claim the boy’s stepfather beat him with a spatula, belt and possibly a wooden paddle. Dina Palmer allegedly struck her son on his buttocks with both a belt and her hand.
The couple reportedly called a pastor before dialing 911. KSNV writes, “Pastor Kenneth Hollingsworth says he’s as shocked as anyone that Markiece Palmer chose to call him before first-responders.”
Religious fundamentalism has always hurt children through indoctrination, but this type of abuse has no place in our civilized society. I’m glad Shoffner will spend some time in prison, and that she will get five years of probation afterward. I hope it sends a message to anyone else who might follow her path.